Army’s 602nd brigade cited as ‘best brigade’ of 6th Division PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 26 October 2013 11:00

An Army brigade that helped reconcile rival Moro factions in North Cotabato, whose bloody squabbles for control of strategic parcels of lands dislocated thousands of villagers, was adjudged “best brigade” of the 6th Infantry Division.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao attached in  a symbolic rite Thursday a citation sash on the banner of the Army’s 602nd Brigade during the 26th anniversary celebration of the 6th Infantry Division.

Hataman was the guest of honor in the ceremonial commemoration of the 6th ID’s anniversary feast at Camp Siongco in Maguindanao’s Datu Odin town.

The commander of 6th ID, Major Gen. Romeo Gapuz, said the participation of Hataman and about a hundred local officials and sectoral representatives in the celebration was an indication of the efficient civil-military “convergence peacekeeping cooperation” among Central Mindanao’s local communities.

The 602nd Brigade, based in Carmen town in North Cotabato, is a consistent recipient of the division’s periodic “best brigade citation” for its active involvement in peace-building activities.

“Credit has to go the enlisted men and officers of all units under the 602nd Brigade. To them goes the honor, from the personnel of the brigade down to all our privates on the ground and all members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit in our area of responsibility,” said Brig. Gen. Ademar Tomaro, 602nd Brigade commander.

Combatants of the brigade and its units had fended off some 20 attacks in recent months by the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters on farming enclaves in North Cotabato’s adjoining Pikit, Aleosan, Midsayap and Mlang towns.

Tomaro, as brigade commander, oversees the Army’s 7th and 40th Infantry Battalions, the 62nd Division Reconnaissance Company, the Alpha and Bravo Companies of the 38th Cadre Battalion, the 10th Special Forces Company, and the Bravo Battery of the 16th Field Artillery Battalion, which are deployed in far-flung areas.

The 602nd Brigade also helped North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza broker a truce between rival forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front that figured in hostilities sparked by territorial disputes in three towns from April to late September this year.

Mendoza’s peace initiative led to the signing last October 15 in a public gymnasium in Matalam town by Datu Dima Ambel, chairman of the MNLF’s Sebangan Kutawato State Committee, and Kagui Abas Bayan of the MILF’s 108th Base Command of a covenant enjoining both sides to reposition away from the disputed lands to restore normalcy and hasten the return of no fewer than 7,000 evacuees.

Hataman, in a keynote message, reminded soldiers of the 6th ID of the need for military organizations in the south to help resolve domestic peace and security issues through traditional and religious conflict-resolution practices.

While North Cotabato is not part of the autonomous region, the 602nd Brigade also covers Maguindanao’s adjoining Pagalungan and Montawal towns, which are component areas of ARMM.

Several towns under the second district of Lanao del Sur, which is inside the autonomous region, are under the jurisdiction of the Army’s 603rd Brigade, also a unit of 6th ID.

Hataman said the “zero encounter” between 6th ID units and MILF forces in Central Mindanao in the past two years is a tacit proof that soldiers under the division value the primacy of the Mindanao peace process, which aims to put an end to the nagging Southern Moro problem through a negotiated political settlement.

Hataman also reiterated his commitment to support peace-building projects of the 6th ID in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, where the ARMM government has on-going socio-economic projects in communities covered by the GPH-MILF 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities.